Archive for April, 2016

Disney’The Jungle Book Reigns Supreme

Monday, April 18th, 2016

TheJungleBook.jpgFrom Disney animation comes the live action film, The Jungle Book, based on the classic books by Rudyard Kipling. A contemporary reboot of the beloved 1967 film, it captures your attention from the opening scene and holds through to the very end. Its stellar voice talent cast supports newcomer, young Neel Sethi who plays Mowgli. The story follows the man-cub Mowgli who flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “What I like most about this movie is the 3D animation and the voice acting. The animals look so realistic and the sets look amazing as well with very detailed backgrounds.” Willie J. adds, “Having now see three versions of the Rudyard Kipling classic, I can honestly say that Jon Favreau’s 2016 adaptation reins supreme. I know that may come as a far-fetched opinion for the faithful fans of the 1967 animated classic, but open your mind to the possibility that this version is above the rest.” Tre’ana H. wraps it up with, “ Director, Jon Favreau’s fantastic adaptation of the story and his devotion to the animals cherish exceeded my expectations. The special effects and 3D portrayal of all the animals are breathtakingly awesome.” See their full reviews below.

The Jungle Book
By Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

I enjoyed watching the new Disney film, The Jungle Book with its vivid and realistic 3D animation.  It is slightly different from the 1967 animated film and has outstanding voice acting from Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken and others.

Junglebook.a.jpgIn this movie you meet Mowgli (Neel Sethi), the only man cub in the jungle and he wants to be a wolf, but in reality he’s not. He is raised by wolves and feels he has a nice life. One day, Shere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens Mowgli’s life. While the wolves argue about whether or not Mowgli should leave for the safety of the pack, Mowgli decides for them and leaves. He heads out to the “man village”. On his way, he meets many enemies and friends such as King Louie (Christopher Walken), Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and Baloo (Bill Murray).  What will happen next? Will he make it to the man village?  Does Shere Khan catch him? You just have to watch the movie to find out.

What I like most about this movie is the 3D animation and the voice acting. The animals look so realistic and the sets look amazing as well with very detailed backgrounds. The voice acting is superb.  Idris Elba and Scarlett Johansson are scary. Bill Murray is funny and Christopher Walken is scary and funny at the same time.  They and the other voice actors truly bring the animals to life in this film. The music adds even more energy and excitement to the film and makes the scenes more interesting.

Junglebook.b.jpgWhat I didn’t like about this movie is that there are many intense scenes. I jumped out of my seat a few times. This isn’t a movie for children younger than 9 years old. This is definitely a “know your kid” type of movie. I also didn’t like that King Louie wasn’t as friendly looking as in the original film, but besides that this movie is great and entertaining.

The themes of this movie are 1) you can’t deny who you are and 2) animals who stick together, survive together.  The wolves have their pack and Mowgli is raised as part of the pack. His natural instincts kick in and he makes inventions to make his life easier but is discouraged by the pack because “it is not the wolves’ way of doing things.” They are man’s way.  When he is in trouble, his manmade inventions save him.

I recommend this to kids ages 9 to 18.  As I said, this really is a “know your kid movie.” It contains some very intense scenes that will be frightening to those who aren’t accustomed to such things. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to people who like to watch action, adventure and comedy movies. It is in theaters now so, go check it out.

Junglebook.c.jpgThe Jungle Book
By Willie Jones, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Having now see three versions of the Rudyard Kipling classic, I can honestly say that Jon Favreau’s 2016 adaptation reigns supreme. I know that may come as a far-fetched opinion for the faithful fans of the 1967 animated classic, but open your mind to the possibility that this version is above the rest.

The darker, more realistic tone of this live-action adventure is a sharp contrast to the lighter tone of the 1967 musical comedy. That may be off-putting to some fans, but once you’re swept up in the visual splendor of the movie, the story becomes ever more engaging. Speaking of which, don’t be surprised if a few elements of the 1967 version’s story aren’t in this one or are rearranged.

Jon Favreu gives the story the proper grandeur it deserves. He uses lush art direction and sweeping cinematography to make the story look bigger. Visual effects aside, the aesthetic of the film gets across the monumental stature a family adventure should have. Combine the visuals with the score of John Debney and you’ll find beauty and thrills that bring back a child like wonder.Junglebook.e.jpg

One thing I really appreciate is the way the film treats the animals as characters, not denying them close-ups or treating them as spectacles. They are instead, portrayed as natural beings within the world of the screenplay. It enhances the brilliant voice acting of the cast. Speaking of which, I hope this film can rekindle the campaign to get voice acting a category with the major awards. Idris Elba is perfectly evil. Ben Kingsley and Bill Murray provide such natural and fitting voice work. And, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken steal the show. Their scenes are the highlights of the movie and are easily the most memorable.

This movie is an overall construction of perfect cinematic elements. Disney has hit a grand slam with The Jungle Book as it will be etched in the memories of audiences for decades. I say this film is one of the best films of this decade and maybe even the last ten years.

With that said, I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. It can be seen at a local theater near you.

The Jungle Book
By Tre’ana Hickson, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

After analyzing this film, I really appreciated it because it is family oriented and explores the relationship of a young man. This film made me wonder if something happened to my parents who would take care of me. I love the fact that the animated jungle animals look so real and talk like human beings. This film blends adventuJunglebook.f.jpgre, drama, fantasy and family in an entertaining story. I enjoyed this film because of the way it takes a classic story and turns it into something amazing. Director Jon Favreau’s fantastic adaptation of the story and his devotion to the animals cherish exceeded my expectations. The special effects and 3D portrayal of all the animals are breathtakingly awesome.

The story follows the man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) who departs the jungle after a threat from the tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba). The panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) serves as his protector and keeps him out of harms way until Baloo the Bear (Bill Murray) comes on board and joins the team. Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery and meets creatures along the way who don’t have his best interests at heart. The film shows his innocence and you have to respect and honor him.

I loved the scene when Baloo the Bear and Mowgli go to the lake with Mowgli sitting on Baloo’s stomach as they float down the river.  I really adored this moment because it is hilarious and it reminded me of a special time I spent with my friends in the pool.  A bond is formed that you knew could not be broken.Junglebook.d.jpg

The message of this film is do not ever hold a grudge against someone because of something that happened in the past. Try to make amends because life is too short and precious.  Live each moment to the fullest. That is what Mowgli realizes and does. You should always give someone a chance to fit in.

I recommend this film for ages 7 to 18 because they will definitely be entertained.  I give it 5 out of 5 Stars because it is child friendly, hilarious, exciting and enjoyable it even though some terrifying moments exist. This movie opens in theaters Friday, April 15, 2016 so go check it out, you will not be disappointed.

ABC Monsters: Adventures in Alphabet Gardens! Starring IJKL – Great Learning Tool

Friday, April 15th, 2016

ABC.Monsters.IJKL.jpgThe concept of the alphabet monsters is a very fun one. The story is engaging and despite that the DVD is for younger kids the older kids enjoy it as well, singing along and watching.  Younger kids sing along with the alphabet song. Although this is an educational video, the kids are none the wiser. To them, it’s entertainment. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Brianna B. comments, “Parents, this is a great tool to help you introduce your preschooler to words and phonics. You can even watch it with them and show how excited you are when they are learning. Learning is exciting and fun and this is a great age to do so.” See her full review below.

ABC Monsters: Adventures in Alphabet Gardens! Starring IJKL
Brianna Hope B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Even though I am much older than the target audience for this show, I must say that the this DVD excels at introducing letters of the alphabet while making it fun and interesting. Throughout the different episodes and stories, there is letter recognition, spelling and the opportunity to write out each letter. These are just a few of the learning mechanisms contained in this volume.

This particular volume focuses on the letters I, J, K and L. Of course, it is very informative with these letters of the alphabet and, at the same time entertains little ones in this aspect of early language learning. The story revolves around the letters missing. They are nowhere to be found. The family and friends of the people that live in Capital Castle must solve riddles and clues to find these missing letters, one episode at a time.

It has many different bright colors which are visually fun and catch the attention of young viewers. The sing along songs are enjoyable and, at the beginning of every episode, I found myself singing the opening song. I enjoyed the songs and like how they transition from one letter to the next as well. My favorite character is the Princess because she is very optimistic and curious – things I relate to. She just wants to know stuff. My favorite episode is “L” mostly because I enjoyed the word choices. Each episode leaves you with wanting more and more. One facet of this show that I don’t particularly like is the length. Each episode is about 30 minutes which, in my opinion, is a bit too long to focus on one letter and just three words associated with it.

Parents, this is a great tool to help you introduce your preschooler to words and phonics. You can even watch it with them and show how excited you are when they are learning. Learning is exciting and fun and this is a great age to do so.
I recommend this DVD for ages 2 to 5 and give it 3½ out of 5 stars due to its length and limited word choice. It is a great learning DVD for preschoolers and I’m sure the little ones will truly have fun and enjoy it.

ABC Monsters: Adventures in Alphabet Gardens! Starring IJKL is available now DVD, so please check it out.

The Octonauts: Creature Encounters – Stealth Learning at its Best!

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Octonauts.jpgThis stealthy science series dives into adventure with the fabulous underwater explorers, The Octonauts! On this exciting DVD, join the Octonauts as they encounter strange aquatic creatures of all shapes and sizes! Plunge into a red-hot lava cave as Peso and the team search for a teeny tiny water bear! Race to a colorful coral reef with Shellington as he tries to meet a special jellyfish that can live forever! And escape a scary moray eel with the help of Barnacles, Kwazii and a mysterious master of disguise – the mimic octopus! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha A.  comments, “While watching this show I noticed the how original it is. It’s the only TV I have ever seen about bears that helps creatures and kids seem to really enjoy that. I can say, that even as a teenager this captured my attention.” Morgan B. adds, “In this DVD, I learned about creatures I never knew existed! Who knew there were water bears that are so small you can barely see them unless you have special glasses.”

The Octonauts: Creature Encounters
Samantha A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

While watching this show I noticed the how original it is. It’s the only TV I have ever seen about bears that helps creatures and kids seem to really enjoy that. I can say, that even as a teenager this captured my attention. So younger kids would definitely be interested in this show and that’s good because then they’ll pay attention to all the important messages that it teaches.

Octonauts is a funny and creative show about a group of silly bears that go on adventures and help other creatures underwater. This show teaches important kids important qualities to develop such as generosity, courage and team work. It also teaches how helping is always a great thing to do. Besides teaching important character traits and messages it also teaches educational things too. During the show I noticed how they teach things to each other and take a deeper look at things to make sure the viewer understands. This is good because a kid can have fun learning new and important things without even knowing that they are actually learning.

Octonauts.b.jpgThe scenery in this show is also great. The bright colors and unfamiliar environment of the sea floor really keeps kids in tune with what they are watching. Also, the scenery really adds to the storyline of each episode and adds to the personality of each character. This makes the show more interesting to watch and often lead me to asking myself questions such as “what type of animal was on the screen” or “where were they were in the ocean?” These questions were answered soon afterwards and with lots of thought put into the answer.

I recommend this show for ages 2 to 7 because it is very educational and toddlers who watch it will be very intrigued by the colors, characters and scenery. This show also gets 4 out of 5 stars from me because, though it is educational and fun for little kids, sometimes it got a little too corny for me. I suggest that you show a younger sibling this show as soon as possible because little kids love it.

The Octonauts: Creature Encounters
By Morgan B, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

In this DVD, I learned about creatures I never knew existed! Who knew there were water bears that are so small you can barely see them unless you have special glasses. An octopus is a great actor and can camouflage himself into different animals to avoid being eaten. This DVD was fun to watch and I found it to be amazing.

The Octonauts are adorable. I love all the different characters of the recue team. The team consists of a white teddy bear, a penguin, a cat, a puppy, a rabbit and more. And, they all made me smile because they are huggably cute. They are great educators and are very serious about their mission to rescue sea creatures. I learned so much by watching the eight episodes on this DVD.

Octonauts.c.jpgMy favorite episode has to be Immortal Jellyfish. It is so cool. I had no idea that a jellyfish could start its life all over again and that it never dies unless it is eaten. Now, that is what I find mind- blowing and totally awesome.

My favorite character is Captain Barnacles because he is always calm and in control and I really  enjoyed that about him. Also, he is very patent and has a plan no matter what. He really reminds me of my Mother! He knows a lot about the animals because he has a whole ship full of adorable animals that do research for the team and the animals in need of rescue.
The animation is crisp and clear. It really looks like the animals are right in front of me. I really wanted to jump right inside the TV and play and help them all.

My favorite part of this DVD was learning about the creatures and the strange things they can do and then seeing the real ones at the end. It is presented as a cute cartoon version of the creatures to explain what they are and what they do in real life. You learn while laughing and having fun. It makes science and marine biology seem very interesting. I would enjoy watching more episodes because the show takes on many extraordinary things I have never heard of before and made me feel very smart by the end of the show.

I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 12. Adults will enjoy it too. Everyone could learn something new from watching this show.  I give it 4 ½ out of 5 swimming stars.

Alisa Knows What To Do: The Mystery Of The Last Truenox

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Based on the supremely popular stories by Soviet science fiction wAlisa_1.jpgriter Kir Bulychov, Alisa Knows What to Do is a 3D series produced by Russian studios and now available in the U.S. on DVD from N Circle Entertainment. The stories follows the incredible adventures of 12-year-old Alisa Selezneva and her friends in the late 21st century. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “. It is exciting to see a very unique style of camera shots and coloring. On top of that, the English dubbing is exceptionally well don and very smooth. I didn’t even realize that characters were re-voiced until the second episode.” Morgan B. adds, “Their adventures have many learning lessons including: The power of friendship is greater than anything; You should not judge people or animals based on their looks; Personality and true hearts are better traits then just good looks.” See their full reviews below.

Alisa Knows What To Do: The Mystery Of The Last Truenox
By Gerry Orz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13

There are so many great Sci-fi movies and TV shows out there. However, very few of them are meant for kids or are poorly done. Well, Alisa Knows What to Do!, is a beautifully animated and exciting Sci-fi series distributed by N Circle Entertainment that is great for kids and adults.

Each episode is a separate adventure featuring middle school student Alisa and her friends filled with action and even some fun teenage romance. All the stories are kids friendly and yet, contain original humor that adults will appreciate too. Add to that some stunning animated visual effects and it makes it for a great show that a wide audience will enjoy.

alissa.a.jpgAlisa is a young girl living many years in the future. The show follows all her crazy and fun adventures with her family and friends and involves animals and technical gadgets that we hope to have in a future. Additionally, each episode delivers a positive moral story which is nicely portrayed nicely within the show itself. The show stays exciting with fun adventures. If you are a fan of science fiction or enjoy dreaming about the future possibilities like I do, you will enjoy this show where we see lots of technology such as space jumpers, hover boots and even cloning!

The Russian-produced show is produced by Timur Bekmambetov’s Bazelevs Group, Riki Group and Animation Studio Moskva. It is exciting to see a very unique style of camera shots and coloring. On top of that, the English dubbing is exceptionally well don and very smooth. I didn’t even realize that characters were re-voiced until the second episode. The series is based on the books by Russian science fiction author, Kir Bulychiov. For people who have read his books, as my family did for many years,  it is cool to see the characters come to life. However, the stories are original to the show, which allows even readers of his books to be surprised.

alissa.c.jpgMy favorite episode is Wipe Out Creativity in which a few of Alisa’s friends sign up to take implants to make them smarter and stronger. However, they get in trouble and Alisa and some of her new friends rescue them. I love this episode because the subject is very interesting and starting to come up in today’s world. The moral of it is: Don’t let others mold you; only you can make you. I think that is very important and agree 100 per cent.

The show is designed for young kids. A few parts may be a bit intense so, I recommend it for ages 7 to 18. I also give it 5 out of 5 stars because it is beautifully animated, has an exciting story, impressive voiceovers and original comedy. Welcome to United States, Alisa Selesneva – kids here are going to love you!

Alisa Knows What To Do: The Mystery Of The Last Truenox
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I found this DVD to be unique and interesting. This four episodes tells all about Alisa and her four teenage friends embarking on many adventures. The first episode focuses on an adorable creature called a Truenox. It is original, funny and quirky with the added bonus of having many mysteries to solve. It was very enjoyable to watch.alissa.b.jpg

My favorite episode, A Singing Showdown has a mystery and a shocking outcome. Hilariously funny with great music, this show down wants to see who will rule the planet.

The colorful characters resemble real teenagers. Real geniuses who think outside of the box, they create new and cool ideas to save people, creatures and their planet. My favorite character has to be Alisa because she shows girl power, humor and potentially your best friend. She rises to the occasion whenever danger lurks.

The voiceovers actors truly match the emotions and voices of real teenagers. Each character has its own unique voice and characteristics, which match their avatar. This makes the film very believable.alissa.d.jpg

The Truenox, which they rescue in the first episode The Mysteries of the Last Truenox, has to be the cutest pet that I have seen. I could hug it for days. He turns out to be an alien that helps Alisa and her friends on their adventures. Comical almost to a fault, he adds humor to the series which made me laugh a lot. Just one smile from him and I found myself smiling back.

Their adventures have many learning lessons including: The power of friendship is greater than anything; You should not judge people or animals based on their looks; Personality and true hearts are better traits then just good looks. The alissa.e.jpgcolorful animation has amazing details. I felt as if I was living in the future. I could actually imagine living on this futuristic planet. The animated people feel like they are real. I found this an amusing place that I would enjoy being a part of. Flying cars and boots would be amazing to own. The unusual design of the different gadgets and modes of transportation add to the futuristic feel of this movie. All of the space aliens look peculiar and plausible.

I recommend this film for ages 6 to 15 because of its cuteness, bright animation and easy to follow storyline. I give this movie 5 out of 5 galactic stars.

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